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The Hellbound Heart: A Novel Paperback – October 2, 2007
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About the Author
Clive Barker is the bestselling author of twenty-two books, including the New York Times bestsellers Abarat; Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War; and The Thief of Always. He is also an acclaimed painter, film producer, and director. For twelve years Mr. Barker has been working on a vast array of paintings to illuminate the text of The Books of Abarat, more than one hundred and twenty-five of which can be found within this volume.
Mr. Barker lives in California. He shares his house with seven dogs, three cockatiels, several undomesticated geckoes, an African gray parrot called Smokey, and a yellow-headed Amazon parrot called Malingo.
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As a work in and of itself, "The Hellbound Heart" is a decent read. It's definitely not like a lot of horror literature: despite the violent subject matter, it certainly doesn't read like a lot of the "splatterpunk" you see today, and the demonology is, like in the movie (at least the first one), focused more on reflecting the human characters than having scary monsters running around screaming "BOO!" Much of the detail seems surprisingly limited in the world, especially the world of the Cenobites. What does get shared is interesting, mind you, but how the various parts of it functions (for example, with the Engineer) seem to be told with scanty details. One almost thinks that Clive Barker could have expanded on the world of the Cenobites far more than he did, as the movie's sequels ended up doing (with varying degrees of success). One thing I will say is that the effects of the cube on Kirstie are actually better realized in the story than in the movie: in the story, it describes how the Cenobites remain around her, even if only in the shadows, or in her subconscious. She could literally feel the madness surrounding her, even as she left the hospital and was walking around. It was a nice touch that I actually wish had been better captured in the movie. (Before anyone comments... yes, I'm well aware of the limitations of various mediums, I'm not saying this somehow ruins the opinion of the movie for me.) I will admit that Kirstie being Rory's daughter in the movie made her feel more connected to the chain of events, whereas in this story she's literally just a close friend who ends up getting caught up between Frank's little love triangle.
If you're a big "Hellraiser" fan, by all means pick this up. If you want to read horror, but something a little on the lighter side, this will definitely please you as well. I recommend it.
The opening is one of the strongest I have ever read. Audiences are quickly ushered into a story of addiction, desire, and otherworldly mystery. The writing is incredibly sharp, as artful details paint a picture of horror which could easily invoke disgust, but instead paints a portrait of dark beauty that’s enough to take your breath away.
Then, in the tradition of classic horror, the story shifts to an everyday scene, leaving audiences to wonder when the otherworldly horror will return, and pounce upon these unsuspecting characters. Audiences are treated to a variety of perspectives, including those who will ultimately become the villains of the narrative.
Through their journey the story explores issues of addiction and inurement, echoing that classic quote, “when you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back.” It’s a slow narrative, and at times audiences may grow tired of the repetitive nature of some of the later scenes, but strong writing manages to carry the day, building up tension as the stage is set for a strong, if somewhat abrupt conclusion. All the right questions are left unanswered, giving audiences a good framework from which to imagine their own personal ending to a suspenseful and very well written story.
*Slow, minimalist plot
Frank, an unfulfilled, lustful hedonist, purchased the box to cure his boredom from dull rounds of desire, seduction and disappointment...
After leaving his offering of dove's heads, bones, bonbons, needles and a jug of his urine at the altar, he went about trying to solve the puzzle of the seamless box...
When Frank opened the first wall of the box, little bells tinkled... when he finally opened the last wall... a somber bell tolled and...
...Cenobites of the Order of Gash appeared... The walls of the room opened up and swallowed Frank...
There was complete darkness except for the phosphorescent glow from the Cenobites...
"What do you want?" asked one of them...
"Pleasure, can you give me pleasure?" replied Frank for he had tired of everything the world had to offer...
"We can give you pleasure... but not as you understand it. Will you partake?... there's no going back..."
5 stars for this short novel. I love a concise story without a lot of backstory bogging it down. This tale was my kind of horror. Though short, this story was very detailed and the last 20% had many mind-boggling twists and turns.
I know this author has been around for many years but this is my first of his novels. I will definitely be checking out more by him.
Top international reviews
This is Barker at his finest. Only the mind that wrote Books of Blood could have come up with this concept to start with, even though in retrospect it seems so obvious, so right, that the Cenobites should exist. They're such a well-known part of modern horror - how could they never have been?
If you've never read any Barker, start here (then try the somewhat longer Weaveworld if you want a novel, or the Books of Blood if you want shorts). If you've read Barker and like him, but not read this, then WHAT? Go read it now - that's an order. If you've read it before, then it's probably time for a re-read ;)
This book would’ve scared the pants off me if I hadn’t already watched the movie a dozen or more times. It’s a short read, but Barker’s prose is gorgeous, sliding creepy and often gruesome images into the reader’s mind. And there’s no traipsing around the houses – Barker launches straight into Frank’s exertions as he strives to open Lemarchand’s mysterious box, leaving no doubt that where we’re going will not be pleasant. The writing is sharp and original and though the author’s descriptions are sometimes sketchy, they leave enough to the imagination for us to picture exactly what horrors the Cenobites bring with them.
A classic of horror fiction.
There's so many aspects that elevate this into a classic read. First is the eloquence of the author's word craft. Just reading the language is a joy in itself. As a writer myself I can only marvel at the talent displayed and hope that I will one day match such skill. But I was a reader long before I became a writer and this remains a fantastic read.
The film based on this novella is excellent, mostly because of the cenobite characters, demons wrought from the flesh of those foolish enough to attract the attention of the order of the gash. The variety of the suffering visible in their forms works well on screen and the written word. The key difference here is that the book treats them as a collective rather than the simple imposing character of Pinhead as a leader.
The film does a decent job in visualising the horror in this tale, but the book does a far better job in describing the sensual nature of the cenobites. And that for me, beyond the quality of the writing, is what makes the story stand out. Normally the duality in horror is expressed as simple good versus evil, or the bestial against human, but here it's not so simple. The pain and pleasure is entwined, indivisable to coin a phrase.
It's a short read, but no less potent for that. The language is finely wrought and full of experssive dark imagination. A superb read and one that if you are a horror fan should be on your TBR list if you haven't already read it.
Rory's blood drips onto the floorboard where Frank's pleasures had been granted before he lost his life and inadvertently gives life to a half-human, half-creature who uses Frank's passionate affair with Frank's wife to get him more blood so he can be whole again.
Brutal, visceral and brilliant, the story sprints to its conclusion. Only a story so imaginative could have been created by the one and only Clive Barker.
Read the book first and then watch the film.
Mostly though I was delighted that the book was a great read. Scary mind! Not for the fainthearted.
The book is different from the movie. The characters have different relationships to each other and the plot is slightly altered. But the vibe and atmosphere of the book and the movie are identical. If you like hellraiser, you'll love this. The book has added depth (obviously) which works really well when we're inside Frank's head and what it feels like to be skinned, with no muscles around his vertebrae and all his nerve endings exposed.... Just horrible and I loved it. And the history of the box, and 'other charts' and means to reaching the cenobites is gone into, that a map to hell used to belong to the marquis de sade, and another chart is in the vatican... It adds a depth and richness to the story that is missing in the film medium.
In short, it's amazing. Read it. You won't be disappointed. A masterpiece.
Hate to say it but the film in this instance was better...
Fully recommended to anyone who loves horror and to those who have only seen the movie Hellraiser read this to see the original idea